Chinese university students quizzed Commerce Secretary Gary Locke about U.S. export controls, the prospects for climate legislation, Chinese investment -- and whether he may run for president one day.
Many of the questions tracked complaints Chinese officials raised with Locke and other officials in recent months, as trade tensions have mounted.
“The United States and China have had many, many common issues for many years,” Locke told the audience. “We all in the world will benefit from the better quality of live and innovations coming out of China.”
China is seeking an end to restrictions on American exports of civilian technology. Locke pledged that the U.S. will complete a plan to overhaul export controls this summer, and said President Barack Obama would pursue limits on carbon emissions with or without congressional legislation.
The questions came from a group of 200 students at Tsinghua University in Beijing submitted through the www.huanqiu.com Internet site, following a model used by Obama when he visited China last year. No other U.S. Cabinet official has participated in this kind of public forum with unfiltered questions submitted on the Web.
Locke is heading the administration’s first trade mission, and executives from U.S. companies such as General Electric Co., First Solar Inc., and Boeing Co. are accompanying him on more than week of meetings in Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing. He will take part in the U.S.-China Security and Economic Dialogue on May 24 with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner
Obama used his forum in Shanghai in November to prod China on human rights and freedom. The questions Locke received were on economic and green energy topics.
Locke ruled out a run for president, saying “No,” at least three times when moderator, professor Qi Ye, said, “Let’s hope Secretary Locke will run day run for that office.”